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Arts in Malaysia 2019/20: ILHAM Gallery and Singapore Art Museum Present The Body Politic and The Body (Preview)

Ahmad Fuad Osman, Recollections of Long Lost Memories (slide), 2007, Collection of SAM, Image courtesy of the Artist

KUALA LUMPUR – ILHAM Gallery and Singapore Art Museum (SAM) present ILHAM x SAM Project: The Body Politic and the Body from 8th December 2019 to 12th April 2020 at ILHAM Gallery in Kuala Lumpur. The first collaboration between ILHAM Gallery and
SAM, it explores the many facets of contemporary art and its genealogies in Malaysia.

The Body Politic and the Body is conceived as a dialogue between works and features 7 artworks from SAM’s collection, alongside a new commission, artwork adaptations and loans from Malaysian artists. As the title suggests, the body is central to the exhibition, which explores the tension between the socio-political body of Malaysian society, imagined as a collective entity, and the individual, subjective body. From SAM’s collection, the exhibition includes Recollection of Long Lost Memories by Ahmad Fuad Osman, Bayu Utomo Radjikin’s Lang Kacang, Dalam by Simryn Gill, The Voyage by Mohammad Din Mohammad, Quiet Rooms by Nadiah Bamadhaj, Redza Piyadasa’s iconic work May 13, 1969, and The Grand Phantom Narrates by Yap Sau Bin.

Presented in relation to these collection works within the exhibition is a commission of a performance piece by Chia Chuyia, as well as works on loan by chi too, Hasanul Isyraf Idris, Wong Hoy Cheong and Yee I-Lann. They imagine the anxieties and subjectivities of the singular body as it is experienced in contemporary Malaysia, extending and engaging with convergent and divergent aesthetic expressions.

“SAM is pleased to collaborate with ILHAM Gallery on The Body Politic and the Body exhibition where artworks from our collection will be brought into conversation with other works by Malaysian artists. We hope that this exhibition will generate critical and reflexive discourse about Malaysia’s art history as well as the relationship between art and society today. We look forward to the exhibition becoming an enabler for dialogue between artists, between works of art, and between audiences and communities,” says Eugene Tan, Director of SAM.

“We are delighted to collaborate with Singapore Art Museum to present this important exhibition which brings together some of our country’s most iconic artworks for audiences here in Malaysia. This exhibition also gives us the opportunity to develop a partnership with SAM, Singapore’s leading contemporary art museum as part of our commitment to building long lasting relationships with national and regional institutions. We hope that the exhibition and accompanying symposium and film programme will initiate deeper and more thoughtful conversations about Malaysian art,” says Rahel Joseph, Gallery Director, ILHAM.

This collaborative project seeks to reflect the broad landscape of art-making in Malaysia today, as well as address the lineages of those art historical trajectories. In this spirit, the exhibition is accompanied by the symposium, “Main Rupa dan Tubuhnya: Bodily Forms of Play Contemporary Visualities in Malaysia | Budaya Visual Semasa Malaysia”, which will take place from 22nd to 23rd February 2020. The symposium will provide a critical space to examine the ecology of contemporary visuality in Malaysia. Over the course of several panels, participants will address issues and present projects relating to bodies of knowledge in Malaysian art history and visual studies. The exhibition will also contain an extensive reading zone, created specially for students, made up of publications and articles relating to modern and contemporary art in Malaysia.

To complement the exhibition, a selection of experimental short videos curated by Kok Siew Wai, titled Portraits.Stories.Beneath, will be featured. This moving image component will showcase works that explore the unreliability of first impressions and changing perceptions of physical appearances, the phenomenon of narratives, and works which take a closer look at the unseen realities hidden under external appearances. There will also be a second moving image programme which will be screened on 22nd and 29th March 2020. These programmes serve to further the thematic engagements and reflections explored in the exhibition and symposium.

The Body Politic and the Body runs from 8th December 2019 to 12th April 2020 at ILHAM Gallery, Menara Ilham, 8, Jln Binjai, Kuala Lumpur, 50450 Kuala Lumpur. Admission is free, for more information, visit their website here

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